A Gypsy's Tale Ch. 09byLadytiger199©
Authors Note: I would like to thank everyone who has voted and sent me e-mail. I know I have no posted regularly to this story, but I think two stories so close will make up for it a bit. I will try to have the next chapter out as soon as possible. A HUGE thanks to my Editor, who made it possible for me to continue this story.
The sun was hot as a small band of gypsies moved slowly across the desert with their beasts of burden and colorful wagons. Most of them played cheerful music, and laughed making the travel more bearable. One young woman however could not even coax a fake smile on her lips. She was too lost in her own sadness to care about the happiness that surrounded her. Her older sister, who was sitting next to her on the wagon for the past few days, had, had enough of her dark mood. "Tecor, when will you stop mourning a life that was never yours to begin with, and start celebrating the one the Goddess gave you?" she asked, looking over at her sister, with concern. Since Tecor had come back from the fortress, she did not dance, nor smile. She would sit by the fire, holding back tears. When people asked her what was wrong she only said that the Marshal did not need her anymore, but Lili suspected that a man was involved.
"I am mourning nothing," Tecor said in a soft tone, not looking at her sister.
"That is a lie. You were always the sun, Tecor, a frown never touched your face until you came back from the fortress. I do not know what happened there, Tecor, or why you stayed so long, but I know two things,"
Tecor sighed and looked over at her sister, waiting for her to continue. "One that you fell in love with someone, and two, he broke your heart for whatever reason." Tecor bit her lip and tried to hold back her feelings, but the sorrow that she held for those days came to a boil, and burst forth as tears.
Lili pulled her sister close, comforting her like their mother used to. "Heartache happens to us all Tecor, but it is never an easy thing to heal from, so cry little raven," she cooed, using Tecor's childhood nickname. "I think we should go see mother," she proclaimed, after letting Tecor cry for a time. "She is close to the next place we stop. She will know what you should do." Tecor nodded slowly, not trusting her voice.
Esric sat in his study with his father, rubbing his hands together, trying to calm himself. "Who would have helped her?" he asked softly, mostly to himself.
"It would have to be someone who would benefit from you and Tecor separating. However, I am sure they did not suspect her leaving that very day. She did not even claim the money you owed her for her dancing when she first came here. She just took her things and vanished."
In the corner of the room, Damien growled lightly to himself, making sure his father and brother did not hear. He did not even get a chance to see Tecor again. She was gone within the hour, without a trace or a good-bye.
"I have to find her," Esric said, standing up and moving to the window. "I have to explain what happened. She may not forgive me, but I cannot let her go without at least saying good-bye," he said in a sad tone. He then he looked over at his father. "Are you sure Lady Branwen will not say who put her up to this scheme?" His father shook his head.
"Lady Branwen seemed determined to be your wife. I guess she would not settle for anything less than a prince. I guess this is mostly my fault. I sent for her, and now she will have to marry someone in the court. She was our responsibility. I cannot give her to one of you two since Damien is already engaged to marry Lady Alerna, and your heart belongs to Tecor, and I do not wish to pawn her off on your younger brothers. In fact, if I had my way, she would be banished from court completely,"
Damien cleared his throat. "Is not Sir Relis of the northern province looking for another wife?" They both stared at him like he had two heads. "I know he is older than she imagined, but he will not care if she is used. He will just be happy to have someone to warm his bed,"
Alessio shook his head. "Sir Relis' health is not well, but his son,...I do not think his son will mind. Lady Branwen still comes from a good family, with a handsome dowry. I will send a letter to them, explaining everything. Now Tecor has had three days start on us, Esric, we shall go find her." Esric was about to argue the fact he could not leave the fortress. "Damien will look after the fortress, Esric. Now get ready, we leave today," he said with a wild grin he had not given since his wife had died. Esric smiled back as he followed him out of the room.
Damien watched their horses disappear into the desert from his bedroom window, when he heard the door open. He did not have to look to know it was Branwen. "What do you want?" he asked in a cold voice, without looking at her.
"I want Esric, but now that is not going to happen. Maybe I shall tell your father the truth when he returns, and he will make you marry me," she said with a seductive smile.
Damien looked over his shoulder at her with dark eyes. "Be careful Branwen, you do not want me as your enemy. Besides, I was able to get father to think of Lord Relis' son Bron. He is a strong young man, who will look past your condition because your dowry will save his lands from poverty. He is a good man, and will take care of you, although you may have to work a bit. The northern lands are harsh and unforgiving, but I have faith you will adapt beautifully," he said with a fox like grin.
"What about your ambitions to have Tecor?" she asked in a dejected tone. "I thought you wanted her?"
"I only wanted to sleep with her, not to keep her. I have my own betrothed, who I now will have to learn to love enough to settle for I suppose. Now you will keep your mouth shut, or I will make sure you are cast out of our society, and that of your own people, because you have no proof we were together Branwen. Take what I have given you and be happy about it," he growled. "Now leave my room." Branwen glared at him for a moment, but quickly left the room. She knew that now she was no longer a virgin she did not have any options left to her.
It took two days to find any gypsies, but another night to find ones that knew of Tecor, but none of them would talk.
"Please, if you know where she is, please tell me," Esric pleaded, as he talked to an older man. The old man chewed on the end of his pipe, and shook his head. "Look, we know she lived with you. I even remember some of the faces the night I met her. I need to find her. I need to tell her that I love her." The old man sighed, but shook his head again. Esric sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "She once told me that you people cherish love, and honor it. Please honor it this once and tell me where she is," he said with empty eyes.
The old man took the pipe from his mouth and looked Esric in the eyes. "I am Tecor's uncle, Richan. I rejoiced the day she came back to our family. Your world can cloud the eyes, and make young people choose against their path, their family. Yet, she did not smile, she did not look anyone in the eyes. Her soul had died. I knew she was suffering from heartache, and now I meet the man who caused it." Richan took a long draw from his pipe, and blew it out slowly. "And I see the same look in your eyes. She may hate me for a time for telling you, but you both need this. Go north of here, until you reach a small village, go to the end there is a small hut, just off the main village. Tecor is there with her elder sister, and mother, though I warn you, those three women will not be happy to see you,"
Esric smiled widely, and hugged the old man. "Thank you Richan, thank you." Then he and his father left the gypsy group. Richan smiled after him. "God help your soul young man," He then laughed loudly.
Tecor sat at her mother's table with a cup of hot tea, letting the warmth sooth her. "Come Tecor, you must at least tell me of this man," her mother said with a soft smile.
"He was arrogant, stupid, and full of pride," she said with a scornful look. "I do not want to talk of him; I want to forget about him completely."
Her mother took the empty cup from her and looked down at the tea leaves at the bottom. Maysha used to be the one to tell people their fortunes, before she decided she needed to stop roaming. "You will never forget him Tecor. He is meant to be with you, this was all planned by the Goddess."
"Mother I know you cannot really read those," Tecor said, like a sulking child.
Her mother raised an eyebrow. "Oh? He will come here before the day is out, and tell you everything." Tecor rolled her eyes, and sat back in the chair. She knew better than to argue with her mother. "If you say so, mother," was the only safe reply Tecor could come up with.
It was mid day when Esric and Alessio entered the small village. A young man told them where the hut they sought was, for a gold coin.
Esric took in a deep breath as he got off his horse, and held it until he reached the door. He was just about to knock when an older woman answered the door. "Ah, you must be the young man who broke my youngest daughter's heart," Esric nodded, and sighed. He wished she was not so blunt. "Come in, and your father as well," she said, opening the door.
The first thing Esric saw was Tecor, and his heart broke more. She looked as if her soul had left her. There was no spark in her eye, or confidence in her pose. Her dead, lifeless eyes just stared past him as if he was not there. "Now young man, please sit," the old woman said, gesturing to a few chairs. Esric nodded, and he and his father sat down. The old woman smiled and sat down as well. "Now what is your name?"
"My name is Esric, ma'am," he said softly. "I am Prince of this land, and Marshal for the fortress Kash."
"I am Maysha, Tecor's mother. Now she did not tell me anything about what happened while she was with you. Perhaps you can enlighten me?" she asked as she poured a few cups of tea.
Esric nodded. "I met Tecor among the gypsies. I was impressed with her dancing, and hired her to entertain a friend of mine who was visiting, and she agreed. My friend was taken with her, and wanted to bed her, so the first night she stayed, I slept in her bed to protect her. I did not touch her in anyway," he added quickly.
"No doubt my daughter would have cut you from nose to navel if you had. Please continue," Maysha said, handing Esric a cup of tea.
Esric took a sip, then continued. "As I predicted, my friend, while drunk, attempted to bed your daughter but I saved her, so she granted me one wish. I wished her to stay with me, until her people moved. So she stayed, and I fell in love with her. Then my father and elder brother surprised me with a guest, a young woman he believed I would be happy with. I told him that I was in love with Tecor, and that night, they met."
"The next day Tecor and my father got to know each other, and when my brother tried to be a little more than friendly towards her, my father called her his sister. Of course Tecor was angry, but I could not let my father treat her so. Tecor is a free spirit, and will not be ordered about. I believe I earned her respect that day."
"That was until the young woman I mentioned before forced a kiss upon me, just as my brother and Tecor entered. She fled and would not let me explain. So believing I lost the woman I loved, I got drunk with my brother. The next day, I woke with a large headache and the young woman who kissed me in my bed. Tecor over heard my family and I discussing it, and that is when her heart broke. She left that very hour without a good-bye or trace."
"We found out later that I did not sleep with the young woman." It was than Tecor looked at him for the first time with interest. "She had planned it out with someone, and wished to trick me into marrying her. However; I was never able to repeat the act, even when she tried to while I was asleep."
You see ma'am, there is something I never told Tecor. I am cursed. I was cursed by a gypsy when I was sixteen, to fall in love with someone who will never want me until the raven comes to me and forgives me." Esric finished his tea, holding the cup in his hands until Maysha took it from him.
"You believed my daughter is the raven," she said, looking into his cup. "You heard the curse wrong, young prince," she said, looking at him with the same green eyes as Tecor. "You are cursed be with someone who will not love you, until the raven comes. That young lady was part of the curse. You were meant to be with her, thinking she would end the curse. You were right Esric, my daughter is the raven, and all she needed was to be there." Maysha put the cup down and looked at him with a kind smile. "We do not use that curse often, because the woman who is the raven usually falls for the cursed man, technically cursing two people instead of one."
Esric licked his lips and looked over at Tecor, who quickly looked away. She did not know if she believed his story about Branwen. However, it did make sense.
"What about the part where the raven has to forgive me?" Esric asked, looking back at Maysha.
"That part is new. Maybe this gypsy wished to make an escape for the raven. If she does not forgive you, you both will go your separate ways," she said, looking between her daughter and Esric. "I think a test is in order. Esric must prove his love to Tecor, beyond a doubt. If she accepts, she will forgive him, if not, he will leave your life forever,"
The word 'forever' made them both flinch, and that made Lili, and Maysha smile.
Esric sighed, softly, then carefully undid a clasp, pulling a small gold locket from his neck. Alessio gasped loudly, and looked at his son questioningly. Esric got up and knelt in front of Tecor holding out the heart shaped locket. "My mother gave this to me when she died. In fact she placed it in my hand minutes before her passing. She told me to give it to the woman I loved. I know this does not prove my love for you, but I think it is a good start." He placed the locket in her hand. "My mother's secret is in there, something only she and I shared. Open it when you are ready, I shall be outside," He stood up, slowly and looked over at Maysha. "Thank you for the tea, ma'am," he said, and with a nod, he left the hut.
Alessio sighed and stood up, but Maysha quickly put her hand on his arm and whispered something in his ear that made him turn red with anger. Alessio left Esric, saying that he had urgent business back home.
Esric sighed as he sat down in front on the hut, with his bags on his lap, waiting for Tecor.
Tecor sat there holding the locket carefully. "Open it," her mother said softly. "It will help you with your choice. I know you love him Tecor."
Tecor growled at her. "That does not matter, he betrayed me," she stated in a hard voice.
"No he did not. He got out witted by a woman, and someone who wanted you in their bed." Tecor's mouth dropped slightly. "He loves you." A soft flute began to play a sad song. "And right now, he is telling you in your language."
Tecor listened to the flute. "That cannot be..." Her mother interrupted her with a stern look "Open the locket, Tecor."
Tecor sighed, then carefully opened the locket. Inside there was a picture of a young woman who had Esric's mouth and nose, and a young man with his grin. They wore bright clothes and headbands, proclaiming their heritage. "They are..." She looked at the door, as the music grew louder. She got up from her chair, and moved to the door in a dream like state. She opened the door, and there was Esric playing the bone flute of the gypsy. If it was not for his fine clothes, he would have passed for a skilled gypsy player.
"I did not know you played." she said, softly moving towards him. Esric nodded, finished the song, and then put the flute down. "The people in the locket..."
"My grandparents on my mother's side. They died before I was born. My mother's family was attacked by raiders when she was a young woman. They killed her parents, and would have killed her if my father had not happened by. He saved what was left of her family. My father took them back to the palace, and took care of them. He fell deeply in love with her, and did not care what she was.
My mother said she did not start out loving him, but felt that she owed him everything and agreed to marry him, giving up her gypsy life. A year later, Damien was born. My mother loved him, but felt he was forced upon her. She avoided my father for some time, and would play this in her spare time. My great-grandfather made it from a wild cat he killed with his bare hands, or so the story goes.
My father saw how sad she was and told her that if she wished, she could go back to the desert, that he loved her enough to let her go. She left for one month. It was within that time when she realized that over time, she had fallen in love with him. She went back, and made love to him, and a year later I was born. She said she loved me the most because I was a child of love." He smiled and stroked the flute with his thumb. "She taught me how to play the flute, and dance a few dances, but only me. My father never knew. She told me when she gave me the flute, that I had a gypsy spirit. It was only when you came into my life that I realized she was right."
Tecor smiled softly, and sat down across from him, "How do you have a gypsy sprit?"
"I wanted you to love me, not because you were beautiful, or because you are intelligent, or any other reason I could come up with, but because it felt right. My spirit sang to yours, and it responded. It just took me too long to realize it. It is such a strong feeling that I am willing to play this flute, and travel with you for the rest of my days, maybe even dance. I will do anything to be with you Tecor, because I will die if you send me away, it will kill my spirit."
Tecor sighed softly and put her hand on his cheek lightly. "I know now that you never meant to hurt me, to do so is to hurt yourself. Yet this does not prove anything."
Esric smiled and stood up helping her stand as well. "I am going to give you back your dance, and your smile, because that is who you are. I always want you to be who you are."
Tecor grinned at him lightly. "I do not think you are that good with that flute."
Esric grinned at her then put the flute to his lips. The song started out slow, with soft, low, long notes that were full of his soul.
Tecor closed her eyes and listened as the music became faster, growing like a fire. She began to move her head to the song, then her hips. As the music grew louder, her feet began to move as she gave herself over to the music.
She opened her eyes, looking over at Esric, who's eyes burned into her, making her want to let loose, making her dance more exotic. She smiled as her hips moved quickly, as the bracelets on her ankles chimed in time with the music. She moved around him quickly as a smile came to her face.
The music and her body moved as one, as if they practiced a hundred times. Then the music came to a climax, and stopped, as did Tecor. Her chest moved heavily, as her eyes never moved from Esric's. "Then again, I can be wrong." she said, letting her body relax. "You are very skilled, and I bow before you," she said, bowing her head slightly.
Esric bowed his head back, "To you as well," he replied softly. Tecor smiled and moved until her body touched his, then pressed her lips to his.
Esric let out a soft sigh, and held back letting her kiss him how she wished. "For the dance," she said softly against his lips. Then she kissed him passionately, and Esric could not help but to put his arms around her, kissing her back with fire. She broke the kiss carefully. "For giving me back myself. I cannot stay mad at you Esric, when you do such a thing." She then touched the flute lightly. "Besides, music and dance have always gone together." Esric grinned, then kissed her again, letting her know how much he cared through one kiss.